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Teach your young child about Black history with these books

Vashti Harrison/Christopher Eliopoulos

They’ll learn about everyone from Harriet Tubman to Michael Jordan

It’s never too early to teach youngsters about the rich history and cultural legacy honored during Black History Month and all year long. This February and beyond, you can spark your child’s curiosity with children’s books about African Americans who have contributed to U.S. history since the country was founded. 

Black history is diverse, as are the books that tell the story of Black people’s struggles, triumphs and contributions. From determined abolitionists to dedicated activists and sports superstars, the books on our list feature iconic figures who will have youngsters wanting to learn more.  

Shop this article: "Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History," by Vashti Harrison“Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library,” by Carole Boston Weatherford and “Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” by Doreen Rappaport

Teaching kids about Black history

Not sure where to start when it comes to introducing kids to Black history? Or do you want to teach them about new subjects, eras and role models to expand their knowledge? Children's books on these important topics will help kids understand the many important aspects of Black History. You'll find numerous books on our curated list that are sure to inspire the young readers in your life. 

Best books for young kids to learn about Black history

"The Undefeated," by Kwame Alexander  

This award-winning book focuses on the lives of Black people in the United States and includes vital historical references to slavery and the Civil Rights movement.  The historical facts are combined with insights into the triumphs of African Americans over generations. It's beautifully illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 

"Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History," by Vashti Harrison

At first look, kids will love this book for its sweet illustrations. But they'll read it time and again to be inspired by the stories of the amazing Black women who played key roles in American history. It features Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisholm, Maya Angelou and more. It made the bestseller lists of The New York Times and USA Today. 

"I Am Harriet Tubman," by Brad Meltzer

Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, this book about Harriet Tubman has a lively tone that makes it engaging for kids to read. They'll learn about how the determined abolitionist escaped slavery and heroically fought it throughout her life. The New York Times bestseller is part of the Ordinary People Change the World series. 

"Heart and Soul: The Story of Americans and African Americans," by Kadir Nelson

Author and illustrator Kadir Nelson captures the reality and determination of African Americans dating back to slavery. Told from the point of view of a centenarian African American woman, it's an award-winning picture book that's enjoyable for kids and adults to share during story time. 

"The 1619 Project: Born on the Water," by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson 

This thoughtful book gives young readers an understanding of slavery and the lives that Black people had before being taken from Africa.  It focuses on a student researching a family tree project who learns her ancestors' history from her grandmother's account. It's illustrated by Nikkolas Smith. 

"The Quickest Kid in Clarksville," by Pat Zietlow Miller

This fascinating book will encourage kids to read as they learn valuable lessons in perseverance from the point of view of Alta, a young sprinter. They'll also learn about track and field Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph. The inspiring book is illustrated by Frank Morrison. 

“Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library,” by Carole Boston Weatherford

Arturo Schomburg was dedicated to collecting books, music, art and other items that showcased the contributions and achievements of people who descended from Africa. His large collection is now part of the renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Illustrated by Eric Velasquez, this book tells his extraordinary story. 

“Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” by Doreen Rappaport

With quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches and life-like illustrations from illustrator Bryan Collier, this is an outstanding book for teaching kids about the historic equal rights activist. It's a biography that has earned numerous honors and recognitions for bringing Dr. King's message and life story to children. 

"The ABCs of Black History," by Rio Cortez

A New York Times bestseller, "The ABCs of Black History,"  is a rhyming book that attaches a concept, person, place and more to each letter of the alphabet to teach readers about Black history. The attention-grabbing illustrations are by Lauren Semmer. 

"The Story of Ruby Bridges, " by Robert Coles

Ruby Bridges may not have felt like a social activist when she entered an all-white school at the age of 6, but her story of bravery and determination continues to inspire. This lovely children's book, which is beautifully illustrated by George Ford, is the story of her courage. 

"Mae Among the Stars," by Roda Ahmed

After reading "Mae Among the Stars," kids will feel like anything is possible. That's because this book tells the story of Mae Jemison who dreamed of being an astronaut since she was a child and went on to accomplish her goals. This easy-to-read story is packed with appealing illustrations by Stasia Burrington. 

"Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race," by Margot Lee Shetterly

The four Black women who were instrumental in sending the first men into space were featured in a bestselling book and movie. Now kids can read about the "Hidden Figures" in this award-winning picture book. It's an excellent choice for inspiring kids' interest in STEM topics. It's illustrated by Laura Freeman. 

"Who is Michael Jordan?" by Kirsten Anderson 

Young sports fans will find Michael Jordan’s story an inspiration to follow their dreams. Illustrated by Dede Putra, this biography tells about his journey that began with childhood dreams and led to the NBA. It’s part of the New York Times bestselling Who HQ series. 

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